An intriguing question I was asked at the beginning of my career was,”What was the worst thing you have ever smelled?” I gave an answer then BUT I just encountered the worst thing I have ever smelled ever in my life this weekend. I have deer and rabbits in my back yard and they eat all of the plants I truly love. I don’t care if they graze on my ground cover, and there is a whole pasture in the back for them to happily munch on and tear up if they please. So, in the interest of encouraging the deer and rabbits to eat things that are mutually OK, I decided to ask a friend what he uses to keep the munchers off his prized plants. He is a Master Gardener and he told me the only thing which works is Repell-X and I should buy a bottle and use it. I did. It was jolly expensive, friends, and I made the mistake of reading the label before I mixed it up. I won’t go into detail, but suffice it to say that it contained offal and hot peppers. Ewwwww. It is 100% natural, by the way.
On Sunday, I decided to go ahead and spray the plants I didn’t want eaten. I opened the container and measured out the correct amount for a small batch. I did notice a smell but it didn’t really get to me. I added water and by now I was starting to process the odor. I put the lid on the sprayer and started out the door. Once in front of my prized (and bitten) Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick (burgundy leaf variety and with some adorable catkins starting to dangle from the tormented branches) I pumped up the sprayer and started spraying. It. Was. Awful. First it was red (EWWWWWW), THICK (EWWWWW), and the smell. Yikes, once it was atomized and floating in the air, this stuff was shocking my soul!
Exactly what was it like? If they serve sausages in Hell, they would smell like this. That is all the description I am going to give. Someone who made this stuff up had put some sort of spice in it, probably to keep it from being so unbelievably offensive to the humans who have to handle it. Misguided, this olfactory cover up made matters infinitely worse than if they had just left it alone. This stuff was so bad, it bypassed gag inducing and nauseating, becoming mental cruelty of the worst order. My psyche was screaming,”Get away from this vile miasma!!! Now!!!!!”
I am sure it works. As sure as I am that the sun rises in the East and sets in the West. But I am just going to let the deer have the specimen plants because there are some things I will never ever tangle with again. It has taken me three days to get the memory of Repell-X out of my head. And now I know…I know what the foulest smell on Earth is. I guess that makes me the wisest perfumer out there.
Honestly, I do think that perfumers have to smell as much as they can. You have to have an educated mind in order to successfully make perfume, and something tells me that at times every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Ironically enough, it’s the experience of the awful which can lead you into the realm of the sublime. At least I hope so. Suffering that much should never be in vain.